Once tortured, now treasured

Egon Schiele:

“With his rebellious personality and unconventional creativity, Egon Schiele was, and still is, one of the most daring painters in the history of art. Part of the Secession art movement, which advocated for the freedom of the arts from academic conventions, Schiele found his freedom in painting contorted nude figures, gloomy landscapes, intense stares and family love. His life, however, had a tragic end: the painter died in 1918, aged 28, three days after the death of his pregnant wife.” – Alessandra Arpaia

Sylvia Plath:

“Plath is known for her haunting depictions of her experiences with depression, which eventually led to her taking her own life. Her poetry was known for its dark themes and general feelings of despair, although they are no less beautiful because of this. Her semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, is still considered one of the most striking pieces of literature on the theme of mental health, even fifty years after its first publication.” – Abi Steer

Edgar Allen Poe:

“Obsessed with alcohol and stylistic perfection, bullied as a child and marked by the loss of his loved ones, the poète maudit dove into the darkest side of the human psyche in his horror and detective tales and his short-stories, where he depicted beauty through sadness and grief. With a death no less mysterious than his tales, Edgar Allan Poe became a cult figure for those lovers of the macabre.” – María Aguín Blasco

Virginia Woolf:

“A prominent writer, Virginia Woolf led a tragic life. As a child, she was sexually abused by her two half-brothers and suffered the loss of several family members. In 1904, Woolf suffered a second emotional setback, and was briefly institutionalised. She entered a loving marriage with Leonard Woolf in 1912, despite having an affair with Vita Sackville-West. Unable to cope with her debilitating depression, Woolf filled her coat pockets with stones and walked into a river in 1941.” – Juliette Rey

Frida Kahlo:

“Frida Kahlo achieved great acclaim despite suffering a troubled life. Her pieces often reflected on traumas such as her infertility and a near-fatal car crash, in which she was impaled by a steel handrail. In spite of her chronic illnesses, Kahlo continued to stay politically and socially active, and once attended an exhibition opening in a four-poster bed. She is quoted saying that “we can endure much more than we think we can.”” – Bella Pattinson

Simone de Beauvoir:

“Simone de Beauvoir is an influential figure in the enduring fight for gender equality. Controversially bisexual, she was a French writer, feminist, philosopher and social theorist, whose work critiqued patriarchal values and the construction of women as “others.” Her pioneering text The Second Sex (1949) demolished the myth of female specific traits, and gave her a place in literary history as an iconic activist for women’s rights.” – Becky Fitzhugh

Oscar Wilde:

“Oscar Wilde may be the very epitome of the tortured artist. Despite being an accomplished poet and playwright, he was imprisoned for sodomy and gross indecency – in other words, being a homosexual in the 19th century. While his work lives on, perhaps most famously The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, you can’t help but wonder what else could have been if he hadn’t died aged 46, traumatised by his time in prison.” – Dan Struthers

L.S. Lowry:

“L.S. Lowry is a national treasure, known for his instantly recognisable “Matchstick Men” surveys of Lancashire’s working class. A very private man, he was single his entire life and suffered from bouts of depression, exacerbated by the deaths of both of his parents – especially his mother, who he cared for in the years before her death. At this time, he created some of his lesser-known and darker works, strange self-portraits and erotica.” – Tony Allen


About Author


Tony Allen

January 2021
Latest Comments
  • Avatar
    Favourite song covers
    Ma’am, this is a Wendy’s
  • Avatar Scott B
    Favourite song covers
    Is this author 14 years old with absolutely zero knowledge on music? Has to be. Two out of three songs are irrelevant. Both by shitty bands. Who paid for this?…
  • Avatar theizzin
    Should we mourn GCSE poetry?
    Wonderful article! Very insightful and brilliantly communicated. I wasn't aware of this issue before, but this article has really brought it to light for me. Thank you very much!
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